how many years will it take, at our current population, for petroleum to be entirely gone?

other than imagined stores of petroleum (maybe under the north pole…), at what amounts are now known to be true amounts, how long will it take for all the petroleum in the earth to be depleted? consider not that our population shall double in 20 years, just consider that it remains the same and that no amazing alternative energy engines and other sources of power have any widespread use. imagine the world as it is today. how long will it be?

12 Responses to “how many years will it take, at our current population, for petroleum to be entirely gone?”

  1. Natanovich Says:

    The "80-100" years response has got to be nonsense. The US alone would consume earth’s known reserves (not counting shale oil) well within 40 years. That doesn’t even include China and India, which have each doubled their consumption in just the past few years.

    Many authorities believe arab oil production peaked last year. This means the easy to get stuff is predominantly used. There is more oil in the gulf and elsewhere, but as others noted, the recovery technology costs more. In addition, as the supply dwindles and demand inceases, this will create considerable price pressure.

    Oil is used in pharmaceuticals, plastics, and other industries. We can expect prices for all these goods to rise dramatically when it becomes no longer cost effective to burn petroleum for fuel.

    Oil topped $80 per barrel this month. Gas prices exceed $4 per gallon in some places. I fully expect, with the increased demand from China and India, that oil will break $320 in five years. That is a mere four fold increase. That means gas at the pump will run about $16 a gallon.

    Are there cost efficiencies in farming? No. Agriculture cannot be run off solar power, and still meet current production quotas. No one is going to run battery powered combines to harvest grain. You need something with a kick to it to manage that–meaning fossil fuel. So if the fuel required to harvest and mill the grain costs 4x as much, and the plastic used to wrap the bread costs 4x as much, you’re going to pay $5 to $12 per loaf on the grocer shelf.

    We have quite a bit of fuel locked up in shale oil, but the recovery costs for it will run about $300 per barrel. It costs about $90 per barrel. In 1993 the cost was estimated to be about $43 per barrel. By 2015 that will be up significantly, as it requires a lot of energy to extract shale oil. You can use the energy you get from shale oil to extract more–but that eats into the margin, of course.

    So, we won’t be able to just keep burning fuel until we burn the last drop. People will be priced out of the fuel market. In the early 1900s whale oil was all the rage. Hardly anyone could imagine the whale oil industry coming to an end. But it did not last all that long into the 20th century. By the 1920s, it was almost entirely extinct. That was a mere 20 years from 1900 to 1920. We’re less 12 years away from 2020, and I’d be quite surprised if we were still using oil then at global rate of even 15 years ago. It is a finite resource–it won’t last forever.

  2. Boogie0821 Says:

    This is a very dubious question as a lot of uncertainties are involved to answering this question. You have to consider that humans have been using fossil fuels since 18th century. I consider petroluem as part of fossil fuel. So far, earth’s resources has been supporting us till now. Inevitably, we will eventually use up all the fossil fuels as it takes millions of years for them to form and only minutes for humans to consume entirely. Question when it will deplete depends on the rate at which we are using the fossil fuels. A look at the recent global development will probably show and provide a more accurate estimation. China has been on a development spurt and other developing countries has been growing at a accelerating rate. These developments require huge amount of energy and thus consumption of fuels have been increased dramatically compared to decades ago. Another factor could also be environmental changes and global climate. This will affect how well and efficient we use the fuels. For example, due to the awareness of global warming, we are finding alternatives to reduce fossil fuel usage and it contributes to the climate demise. Therefore, it is very difficult to judge when fossil fuels will run out. By speculation, it could be another century later. Nobody knows. But most importantly, the question is are we going to stay dependent on the fossil fuels till it runs out or are we going to find alternatives to liberate ourselves from this reliance.

  3. Screamingradical Says:

    Given the parameters you said to use we would have approximately 85 years left. If we developed only what reserves that have proven. We should develop alternative sources immediately and just that 85 years for lubricants supply that would last us for about 500 years.

  4. WΩMBAT (Vωmbαttus sp.) Says:

    If, by "petroleum", you mean "cheap petroleum", well, we’ve pretty much run out of that already.

    There are still huge amounts of oil and gas still out there, it’s simply a question of how much time, effort, money, and energy you are willing to spend to get it out of the ground.

    We are not likely to just "run out" of petroleum. What will happen is oil will get more and more and more expensive, until replacement technologies are appreciably cheaper by comparison. Judging by the huge increase in ethanol, biodiesel, and coal gasification recently, I’d say this is happening already.

    Hope that makes sense,
    ~W.O.M.B.A.T.

  5. the_fig_newton_monster Says:

    about 80-110 years. But by that time we would of allowed drilling in the Alaska wild life reserves (they hold TONS of pertol/oil).

  6. tim_ume Says:

    More than a 100 years. Russia and Canada have a lot of natural resources like petroleum and many of them are located near the Arctic Circle. A lot of natural resources in Russia are still undiscovered, due to its enormous land mass.

  7. Richard R Says:

    Oil will likely never be entirely gone. New, smaller deposits will we made for the better part of forever, and perhaps the occasional large deposit as well. Most of these will be from deep sea sources, in waters considerabley deeper than current drilling technology allows. When prices become higher, developing these areas becomes economically feasible. Prices will skyrocket as supplies diminish. So there WILL be oil, just most people won’t be able to afford it.

  8. kelly C. Says:

    I’ve heard that in 500 years the Sun will be really big that it will burn people then there wont be any humans left on earth then the Sun will get small again and then dinosaurs will be borned then they’ll die then humans will be borned. and then here’s the best part I JUST MADE THIS WHOLE THING UP!!!!! *drum roll* and *silent* ; ) i have no idea when the life on earth will end…

  9. Birdlegs Says:

    Scientist estimate that we have 157240 days left before all the petroleum in the world will be depleted.

  10. gowdymail Says:

    I had read about 40 years about 15 years ago… You do the math. Not good odds at all. We really need to come up with an alternative and fast. But the people who own oil (usually millionaires and presidents) can afford to pay for whatever has to come next. They pay to hold off the technology so that we can keep paying for their lifestyle.

  11. David C Says:

    80-100 yrs…..that’s it.

  12. SALEH M Says:

    There was another question by some one else asking the same quarry. This is how I answered it. I am sorry for repeating the same answer.

    The reports in the scientific magazines have 2 statements to make:
    1): The first statement is based on the assumption (I mean assumption) that we know every thing about the reservoirs around the world.
    a) That we know the quantity left in these reservoirs etc.
    b) The present consumption rate stays steady, with a little bit of fluctuation.
    In this case, the first statement says that We have already crossed the mid point of the reservoirs and eventually we will have NO oil in 150 years.
    2): If we do not know all the facts, as is the case with some nations in the world that they do not want to talk about the exact wealth of oil they have. Here again we have 2 sub-cases
    a) they have less than what they show
    b) they have more than what they tell
    Now if the rate of consumption increases ( with more industry and other related stuff) no new reservoirs are discovered, we will hit the bottom in may be 100 years.

    The theory of 20 years is absolute absurd